Monday, July 21, 2008

Horcoff for another 6

This is Shawn Horcoff celebrating my favorite goal I've seen him score. The signing of Shawn Horcoff is excellent news. I knew his cap hit would be over 5 million and I'm glad it didn't hit 6 (which he would have cost on the open market).

Its funny, a couple days before the signing I was having a conversation with Jonathan about the last UFA target I'll like to see the Oilers pursue. In our brief discussion I made the comment "I'm not interested in signing anyone left at the expense of Horcoff. But when the Oilers were chasing Hossa, they had Horcoff making calls. I expect he is in the plans." I had no clue it would be this quickly but I'm glad the Oilers got it over with.

Shawn Horcoff is going to be perfect for the development of Sam Gagner. I expect that Horcoff will be the #1 centre for a season or 2 with Gagner getting 1st line PP time much before he ever becomes the #1 centre. In fact, it could be 4 years of Horcoff's contract before Gagner is ready to play PVP. At that time Gagner will still only be 22 years old. A 6 year deal for Horcoff puts no pressure on 89 to develop. I wonder how much better the previous 89 would have become if the Oilers had that luxury back then.

Many others have commented on the contract and the general opinion is positive. There are a few posters out there that seem to think Horcoff isnt a true #1 centre and will thus be overpaid. One poster compared Horcoff to Holik. I could be wrong on this but I believe Holik made 8 million dollars a year and scored 45 points for those seasons. I've compared Horcoff to Brind'amour for a couple years now. The other guy who I've recently started to compare Horcoff to is Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg is obviously in a different class but both players are extremely hard workers who are tenacious on the puck. We also aren't too far away removed from Horcoff outscoring Zetterberg in the 2006 opening round. Horcoff's development as a player is also similar to Zetterberg's in the sense that both were good defensive players who learned to adapt their offensive game over time. In a recent post I made, I quoted Babcock about the development of Zetterberg "he has always been a great defensive player but he never shot the puck. Now he shoots the puck more anyone in the league (well not a quite as much as Ovechkin) so he scores all the time". As a player, Horcoff is evolving his game in a similar fashion. In the last couple years, Horcoff has become more effective offensively by learning to shoot the puck more. Mentally that is a tough switch for a player like Horcoff to make and he has benefited from it.

Ok now that I've done the ridiculous and compared Horcoff to Zetterberg let me ask - other than Zetterberg, who is a better 2 way centreman in the league? In other words in a PVP situation, who would you take over Horcoff. My early guesses are Zetterberg (and Datsyuk), Crosby, Mike Richards and Ryan Getzlaf. Crosby is a better player by a large margin but I thought he was worth mentioning because the progression in his game in this years playoffs to becoming a more complete player.

Langkow - nope
Brindamour - not anymore
Koiuvu - I'd take Horcoff
Lehtinen - not anymore
Drury - debatable
Pahlsson - maybe better defensively but Horcoff gets 3x the points

Anyone I am missing? Either way, Shawn Horcoff is a good guy to lock up.